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  (Source: flightglobal.com)
Researchers working on aircraft that would send tourists out into space faster than the speed of sound.

The ultimate adventure ride could be coming soon to an airport near you.  It's called "Skylon" and the special aircraft is being developed for commercial use to carry tourists out into space within the next ten years. 

Skylon would take off from a standard airport runway and travel at more than five times the speed of sound, according to the
 Telegraph and Daily Mail. The revolutionary aircraft was developed by Reaction Engines, with support from the new UK space agency. 

The 270 foot-long spaceplane is unpiloted, has no external rockets, and has two engines that use hydrogen and oxygen to propel it more than 18 miles out of the Earth's atmosphere.  

The propulsion and attitude control are provided using computer systems while in orbit.  The engine uses the propulsion to reach the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere before switching to rocket power.

The aircraft – which can can remain operational in orbit for up to seven days – would take off from an airport, fly out into orbit, and then land on the runway. The craft is expected to carry up to 24 passengers into space at a time, revolutionize space travel, and cut costs. 

The reusable spaceplane is intended to provide inexpensive and reliable access to space within a decade.  

"Access to space is extraordinarily expensive, yet there’s no law of physics that says it has to be that way," said Technical Director and one of the founders of Reaction Engines, Richard Varvill. "We just need to prove it’s viable. The simple truth is that the Earth is part of a much bigger system."

In the future, Skylon could be used in place of NASA's Space Shuttle to transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.



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Science?
By foolsgambit11 on 9/20/2010 2:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Access to space is extraordinarily expensive, yet there’s no law of physics that says it has to be that way
I suppose that's true. But there is a law of economics that, coupled with the laws of physics, says it will pretty much always be that way. Gravity and friction set a theoretical low-end to the amount of energy required to get something into space. And energy is a commodity that will always be in demand, and therefore expensive. When it comes to budgeting how we use the energy we have, moving ourselves from place to place is likely to become less and less of a priority for more and more people as time goes on. Getting to space could be done cheaper than it is today, but it will probably never become commonplace unless we discover that we were wrong about some fundamental laws of physics (or economics).




RE: Science?
By Belard on 9/24/2010 10:42:08 AM , Rating: 2
Just need to come up with a handy dandy anti-gravity machine... that's all.

And with that, we can go anywhere.


RE: Science?
By Dorkyman on 9/24/2010 6:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
Just as a Prius can use regenerative braking to recapture some of the kinetic energy, wouldn't it be cool to find some way of capturing some of the kinetic/potential energy that a space vehicle burns up when it returns to earth?


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